business news in context, analysis with attitude

This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

Just got back from taking the dog for a long walk, and I’m sitting in my backyard having a cup of coffee … and it is coffee that I want to talk to you about this morning.

A couple of weeks ago, I used this platform to talk about the fact that Starbucks is shutting down its online store this month. I had a problem with this for both personal and professional reasons. The personal issue was simple - I’ve had a subscription for years for two pounds of ground Verona coffee to be delivered to the house, and in shutting down the store, Starbucks is cancelling all subscriptions.

Which leads me to my professional objection. There’s an old saying that it costs a lot less to keep a customer than to get a new one, and subscriptions are the ultimate way to create a captive customer. Which is an advantage that Starbucks is giving away … the company says I can buy my coffee in supermarkets, which makes no sense since it’ll be displayed next to dozens of other coffees and I might buy one of those instead, or I can go into my local Starbucks and buy it there, which I always could’ve done, but chose not to. I loved the convenience of a subscription, but Starbucks apparently has decided that it wants me to buy its coffee the way it wants me to buy coffee, not the way I want to buy coffee.

What Starbucks has done is open a window and allowed its competition to vie for my business.

Not a great idea, I think.

Now, I’m lucky. Because I have this platform, I wrote about this issue and the mistake that I think Starbucks is making, and I got an email from the City Girl Coffee Co of Duluth, Minnesota, offering to send me some coffee and letting me know that they have a subscription program. I said, sure, go ahead. Why not?

It is not my habit to do free commercials for folks, but I’m going to make an exception this morning. The folks at City Girl sent me a pound of their Blondie: Brazil Fazenda Helena, and it is terrific. Not only does it taste good, but it makes us feel good … since all the coffee made by the company is sourced from women-owned farms, a portion of every sale is donated to nonprofits that support these women in their countries of origin, and City Girl itself is a certified women-owned business.

All good stuff. I may have to get myself a subscription.

Starbucks, I think, made a mistake by opening a window that allows its competition to get into the game. That’s not how you play to win.

That’s what is on my mind this morning and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: